Playing Music May Improve Your Child's Brain and Attention Span

First Posted: Dec 24, 2014 10:54 AM EST

Could playing music improve your child's brain? Scientists have found that musical training might help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.

In order to better understand how music influences children, the scientists analyzed the brain scans of 232 children between the ages of six to 18. As children age, the cortex changes in thickness. In previous analyses, the researchers had found that cortical thickening or thinning in specific areas of the brain reflected the occurrence of anxiety and depression, attention problems, aggress and behavior control issues even in healthy kids.

Surprisingly, though, it seems that music can help with these issues. The scientists found that playing music altered the motor areas of the brain due to the fact that the activity required control and coordination of movement. More importantly, there were changes in behavior-regulating areas of the brain. For example, music practice influenced thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to executive function, including working memory, attention control, and organization and planning for the future.

The researchers also noted that a child's musical background correlated with cortical thickness in brain areas that play a critical role in inhibitory control, in addition to aspects of emotion processing.

The findings support the idea that music may just help children battle psychological disorders. The new research could mean a new way to provide therapy to children in the future. Not only that, but it could represent a way to help even healthy children perform better in school and during other social activities.

The findings are published in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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